What is a coimetrophiliac ? The online English Encyclopedia defines it as :
- a special fondness and interest in cemeteries or graveyards especially in collecting epitaphs that are written on the tombstones and
- a fascination with seeing gravestones and sarcophagi.
Ever since I began researching my ancestors I have been drawn to old graves in churchyards. I have been enticed inside to walk up and down the rows of the dead reading the messages left on their tombstones. I never feel particularly sad when doing so, apart from when I find the graves of young children which their loved ones have left toys and personal objects beside, but am fascinated by reading the gravestones which tell us so much and yet so little about the person buried there.
I like looking at the graveyards from a number of different angles including
- from a social history perspective
- looking at the design of the graves themselves
- the different wording their loved one's used
- the wildlife which graveyards attract
- what state the graveyards are in.
- the oldest grave
- the oldest person I can find buried there
- the most represented family
- the most interesting gravestone
- anything unusual in the graveyard which catches my eye
I sometimes go into the church and have a look at any graves within. These generally tend to be wealthy local family members, previous vicars of the church or perhaps local heroes.
Whichever graveyard I visit, I make a mental note of the condition of the graves - you tend to become critical after wandering through umpteen different graveyards with a torch and a trowel ...... the churchyard below at Otterford in Somerset is one of those memorable for all the wrong reasons !